Bees for Cash-ew

By Ann-Christin Berger, Aci

“Bzzzzz, bzzzzz, bzzzz” is the buzzing noise you will hear when visiting some of the many cashew farms in Ghana and Benin where farmers have adopted a new, yet promising activity for income diversification: Beekeeping.

Beekeeping practice in Benin

Currently, cashew farmers in West Africa experience a yield gap by harvesting only 3-4 kg/tree. In order to meet demands of the world market, yields for African cashew production must rise up to 20kg/tree; total production should increase by 9% annually until 2020. The key to achieve higher yields is usage of improved planting material as well as effective pollination of the cashew trees. Therefore, cashew farmers gradually become friends with bees. 

Since the cashew plant is dependent on pollination with insect visitation to flowers, bees (Apis honeybees, stingless bees and solitary bees) are effective pollinators to increase yields and raw cashew nut quality. The African Cashew initiative and Dr. Kwame Aidoo, beekeeping expert from the University of Cape Coast Ghana, conducted a study on the impact of beekeeping on cashew production. Findings show a promising outcome: 

Bee pollinating cashew flowers

Cashew farmers in Benin who integrated beekeeping experienced a 200% yield increase compared to farmers without bees, on so-called control farms.  

Improved pollination thus generated an average income increase of more than 200% from the cashews only! In addition farmers gain revenue from harvesting by-products of beekeeping such as honey, propolis and wax.

“The market is big - the pharmacies in the region are very interested in the bee wax and the propolis to produce natural medicine.  For 1 liter of honey I get 13 GHC (~7 US$), presenting another untapped source of income” says one woman farmer from Tuna in the Northern Region of Ghana.

Honeybee products: honey, wax, propolis

Most families in the rural areas solely depend on farming activities. Beekeeping has improved the livelihood of cashew farmers in Ghana and Benin by increasing yields and quality of raw cashew nuts tremendously. It is estimated that by integrating beekeeping, cashew farmers in average will earn about US$ 575 per 1 ha cashew farm with 2 colonies of bees.

For further information please contact:

Mary Adzanyo (Director Private Sector Development)